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Slaid Cleaves

- US Austin, TX Folk / Americana / Singer/Songwriter


Sounds Like: Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Josh Ritter, Todd Snider, Guy Clark

Label: Music Road Records

Manager: Karen Cleaves

Bio: Slaid Cleaves. Grew up in Maine. Lives in Texas. Writes songs. Makes records. Travels around. Tries to be good.

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Slaid Cleaves is best found at www.slaidcleaves.com.


"One of the finest singer-songwriters from Texas"
— The New York Times
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  • Thu

    Sep 18

    Birmingham, AL, US | 8:00pm

    Birmingham, AL, US
    Thu Sep 18 8:00pm


    Jillian Edwards opens

  • Sun

    Sep 21

    Charlottesville, VA, US | 3:30pm

    Charlottesville, VA, US
    Sun Sep 21 3:30pm


    An Evening with Slaid Cleaves Slaid Cleaves spins stories with a novelists eye and a poets heart. Twenty years into his career, the celebrated songwriters Still Fighting the War spotlights an artist in peak form. Cleaves seamless new collection delivers vivid snapshots as wildly cinematic as they are carefully chiseled. Dress William Faulkner with faded jeans and a worn six-string for a good idea. Slaids a craftsman, says Terri Hendrix, who sings harmony on Texas Love Song. He goes about his songs like a woodworker.Accordingly, Cleaves earthy narratives stand oak strong. Men go off to war for a hundred reasons/But they all come home with the same demons, he sings on the albums title track. Some you can keep at bay for a while/Some will pin you to the floor/Youve been home for a couple of years now, buddy/But youre still fighting the war. Few writers frame bruised souls as clearly. Fewer still deliver a punch with such striking immediacy.I started Still Fighting the War four years ago and originally each verse was a separate character, Cleaves explains. Each verse was about getting swindled. One was about the economy, one was about a returning veteran, one was about a broken-up couple. It was too cumbersome, so I focused in on the soldier. The key that made it all work came as I was talking to my friend and occasional co-writer, Ron Coy. A troubled Vietnam vet buddy of his had recently passed away. Ron said, All this time, it was like he was still fighting the war. I knew instantly that was the perfect way to summarize the song.Cleaves delivers equal measures of hope and resignation throughout this 2013 release as life lessons slide subtly through side doors. Normally when I start writing a new batch, a theme starts to emerge after three or four songs, says Cleaves, who built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago. This time around I thought, Im just gonna write where the muse takes me and each song will be its own thing. So I ended up with a CD that has a bit more variety on it compared to my previous releases. Half the songs are about struggle and perseverance and half are all over the place, some tongue-in-cheek stuff, a gospel song, a Texas pride song.Witness deft wordplay on the latter: Your wits as sharp as a prickly pear/The sun shines in your golden hair/Your smile hits me right in the solar plexus, Cleaves sings with a wink in Texas Love Song. Skin as soft as early morning rain/Temper like a Gulf Coast hurricane/I love you even more than I love Texas. Originally, the phrase was I love you almost as much as I love Texas, Cleaves says, because that's about as far as a true proud Texan will go. Then I realized that if I committed the sin of saying I love you even more than I love Texas, it trips off the tongue better. It was a fun little challenge to come up with so many rhymes for Texas."Of course, Cleaves conquered the task. Longtime fans expect nothing less. After all, Still Fighting the War follows the razor sharp songwriters undeniable hat trick Broke Down (2000), Wishbones (2004) and Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (2009) that established him as a singular storyteller. His golden key: effortlessly shading dark with light. Cue Cleaves excellent double-disc Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge for inarguable evidence (Drinkin Days, Wishbones, Horseshoe Lounge).You get a lot of the man behind the lyrics, Hendrix says. What you see with Slaid is what you get: He doesnt have the eyes of a cynic. He has optimism about him through a realistic gaze and writes with a wise voice. The Kerrville Folk Festival recognized those intangible qualities long ago when Cleaves won its hallowed New Folk award in 1992. Hes doubled down ever since with literate story songs exponentially more mature and meaningful.Consider one other new high water mark. But they figured it out/And shipped the elbow grease/Down to Mexico/And off to the Chinese, Cleaves sings on the haunting meditation Rust Belt Fields. And I learned a little something 'bout how things are/No one remembers your name just for working hard. Childhood friend Rod Picott co-wrote those potent lines - the duo has split pages on several indelible blue-collar vignettes over the years (Broke Down, Sinners Prayer, Bring It On, Black T-shirt).Slaid is my favorite co-writer, says Picott, who also co-wrote the new albums standout Welding Burns. Hes a smart writer with a gift for wringing the most out of a melody. Slaid understands that the song has to rule. He's patient and unwavering in his pursuit of the best. Cleaves humbly accepts the praise. Despite the odds, through persistence and good fortune I've carved out a niche for myself, he says. You could say I have a Whim of Iron."

  • Tue

    Sep 23

    Newport, KY, US | 8:30pm
    The Southgate House Revival...
    Newport, KY, US
    Tue Sep 23 8:30pm
  • Thu

    Sep 25

    Berwyn, IL, US | 8:00pm

    Berwyn, IL, US
    Thu Sep 25 8:00pm
  • Fri

    Sep 26

    Cascade, IA, US | 6:30pm

    Cascade, IA, US
    Fri Sep 26 6:30pm


    Held at the Ellen Kennedy Fine Arts Center, 505 Johnson St. NW, Cascade, IA. Reserved seating. Call 563-542-4659 for tickets or email lyons@netins.net

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Add Comment
  • Scott Smith (Artist) Scott Smith
    You're music is one of the reasons I started songwritting a few years ago. Just wanted to say Thanks for the inspiration...You're the best!!!
  • egon erger (Artist) egon erger
    really enjoyed the listen to the beautiful „tumbleweed stew“. great song and delivery. very well done. best wishes and success, egon erger
  • Rude Boi (Artist) Rude Boi
    - Real Fans, Plays, Widget Hits and Video Views on Reverb Nation - Real Likes from Real People on Facebook - Real Followers from Real People on Twitter - Real Vie...
  • Chris Alan (Artist) Chris Alan
    Love the voice and harmony!
  • Frownz (Artist) Frownz
    Just swinging by to show some love, good vibes as always..would be great if you could take a look at my brand new music video 'Alive or Dead' which tributes my former lab...
  • Kevin M. Thomas (Artist) Kevin M. Thomas
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